Thursday, June 4, 2020
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This may be the perfect antidote to the lockdown blues, the perfect way to bounce back with great energy in the post COVID-19 world. Game Theory gives an opportunity for users to play a sport of their choice near their home by connecting them with other people and by providing them with facilities and the equipment to do so.
It is a sports-tech startup that started with the aim to make playing everyday sports as easy as it was when they were kids, and in the process build close-knit communities. A member can see the nearest available Game Theory sports facility and book a slot through the app. The app also matches people with similar skill-levels who wish to play.
“We believe a centre should not be more than a 15-minute drive from any member. You open the app and in 10 seconds book your first game for a price less than that of a cup of coffee. You don’t need a racket, you don’t even need shoes. You just need to show up,” says Sudeep Kulkarni, Founder of Game Theory.
Sudeep shares that the primary aim is to make playing sports convenient, fun and hassle-free. Apart from venues, and good game partners, Game Theory also provides sports equipment on rent, coaching sessions and a chance to take part in leagues and competitions.
Automatic scoring, statistics and cameras at all facilities elevates the experience, but the biggest draw, is the matchmaking. The Game Theory app uses specialized skill-rating algorithm to continuously update skill levels with every match, so a player will be able to match with a person of similar skill and have a good experience every time. Players will also be on a leader board and they will be able to see where they stand in their centre, area or the entire city.
The founders of Game Theory – Sudeep Kulkarni, Vivek Chandran (COO) and Surakshith B (CTO) know what they are doing. They previously started The Tribe, a class-based fitness startup that was later bought by Cult.Fit.
“We started by building three facilities of Badminton, Squash and Swimming in Bangalore. We now have over 6,000 paying customers. In March 2020, after a year of running facilities and during our second month at Techstars, we expanded by five facilities in just two weeks,” says Sudeep talking about his plans for scaling.
With their asset-light model, Game Theory partners with existing facilities, standardizes them, and runs the show on a revenue-share basis. Technology like automatic light control and inventory management ensures efficient operations and lower costs. In areas where facilities don’t exist, they partner with landlords to build courts to utilize idle real estates like terrace tops and empty plots.
Game Theory’s goal now is to have 3,000 courts, adding tennis, football and cricket, and get more than 320,000 users on board by expanding in Bengaluru and to Chennai, Hyderabad and Delhi/NCR in the next three years.
They are also targeting fitness users, who are currently left in limbo from shared spaces being shut down due to COVID-19. There are 60 lakh people in India paying over Rs 2,500 per month on fitness alone. The founders think of this as their “demonetisation-Paytm” moment to make sports every person’s fitness routine.
Game Theory centres are rolling out their technology to partnering facilities without a fee to help facility owners get back on their feet by getting in more customers through the door.
Game Theory is one of the ten startups that successfully completed the mentorship-driven Techstars Bangalore Accelerator's 2020 programme recently. The intensive programme provides support to the startups through an investment of $120,000 in each company, mentorship and support resources as they develop and refine aspects of their businesses to enhance product-market fit and position themselves to scale.